Character: Three Ways To Build It

characterThere is probably no more important leadership trait than character. 

If you have it you can lead effectively, and people will follow.

If you do not have it?

You will have a much harder time convincing teams to respect and admire you, let alone follow you.

Here are three ways that character is built and what we can do to develop this important leadership trait.

Character is Built Through Trials and Suffering

Not only do trials reveal character, they build character as well. Even though times of struggle are not pleasant, we should welcome them as opportunities that refine our character and help develop patience, perseverance and deep learning. We learn more from trials than from victories.

Victories tell us we are successful, but do not show us where we can improve. When we go through trials, that challenge has our attention and we can learn, grow and develop our character as we work through them. Consider what you can learn from each trial and seize the opportunity to grow your character.

Character is Built Through Decisions We Make

The decisions we make reflect our character. However, each decision we make builds who we are. That is why we need to take each decision seriously. If we get lazy and uncaring about our decisions, then we may forge a character that creates a future we do not want.

Good decisions are made by thinking through the implications of our choices. Some of the worst decisions I made were because I had not completely thought through how that decision would reveal itself later.

Character is Built Through the Habits We Develop

Like decisions, each habit we develop reveals our character. When I was involved with The Strategic Coach Program, Dan Sullivan would say that the four most important referability habits were: Show up on time, do what you say, finish what you start, and say please and thank you. These habits seem basic but I am sure that some of us or people we know do not live these out, and that impacts our character.

Research shows it takes 21 days to build a habit. We can think about the habits we want to build and then incorporate them into our life by practicing them 21 days in a row. When we change a habit we can change a life. If we write down 17 habits to be done 21 days in a row over a year, think how different and more improved we can become for our families, our co-workers, our friends and ourselves.

There are several ways that character is built and we have discussed three ways here. What other character building examples can you think of?